Disney Digital Network

Disney Digital Network was an American multi-channel network located in Culver City, California. It was originally the successor to Maker Studios, co-founded by Lisa Donovan, Danny Zappin, Scott Katz, Kassem Gharaibeh, Shay Carl, Rawn Erickson II, Ben Donovan,[3][4] Philip DeFranco, Glasgow Phillips, Michael Gallagher, Matthew Clawson, and Paul Ballon in 2009. Maker Studios was originally conceived as an incubator for YouTube talent through the use of Super Channels like The Station. Maker Studios adopted the multi-channel network (MCN) model after the initial model failed to take root.[5][6] Maker Studios was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2014 for $500 million,[7][8] and was absorbed into the newly formed Disney Digital Network in 2017.[8]

Disney Digital Network
FormerlyMaker Studios Inc. (2009–2017)
Company typeMulti-channel network
Founded2009; 15 years ago (2009)
DefunctApril 30, 2019; 5 years ago (2019-04-30)
Key people
  • Andrew Sugerman (CEO)
ParentDisney Media and Entertainment Distribution
SubsidiariesPolaris (formerly The Game Station)
Websitemakerstudios.com (Redirects to disneyadvertising.com)
ddn.disney.com (Redirects to disneyadvertising.com)
Footnotes / references

Outside the United States, the former Maker Studios had significant audiences in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Australia, and was aiming to expand its Asian operations, where it once had 700 million monthly unique views. Run by René Rechtman (who now runs Moonbug Entertainment), president for the international division, Maker had plans to build a headquarters in London for its commercial, production and marketing activities outside the USA. An Asian hub had been established in Singapore, which offered limited commercial and marketing support before the company was sold to The Walt Disney Company.[9]

Following the Disney acquisition, the company suffered multiple rounds of layoffs, executive shuffling, and partner cut-offs.[10][11]



As Maker Studios


The logo of Maker Studios

2009–2012: Foundation and early years


Maker Studios was founded in 2009.

In June 2012, Maker Studios announced that over 1,000 channels signed under the network have received and accumulated over 1.1 billion views for the month of June 2012.[12][13] At the time, YouTube channels under Maker Studios collectively earned over 90 million subscribers.[14] In October 2012, Maker Studios surpassed Machinima to become the number one independent YouTube network.[15] However, since that time, according to comScore, in December 2012, Fullscreen passed Maker to become the top ranked YouTube-based network.[16]

2012–2013: Ray William Johnson dispute


From late 2012 through 2013, Maker Studios and Ray William Johnson were involved in a public feud that received considerable media attention.[17][18][19][clarification needed] Maker Studios formerly produced Johnson's Equals Three and Your Favorite Martian series.[15] In October 2012, Johnson announced he would be leaving Maker Studios in an episode of Equals Three.[20][21] Johnson also formed his own production studio, Runaway Machine (formerly Runaway Planet).[22][23] Johnson has stated online that he left Maker Studios due to the pressure the company put on him into signing a contract which gave Maker a 40% share of his channel's AdSense revenue and 50% of his show's intellectual property rights. He stated that they were using "thuggish tactics" to pressure him into signing the contract, one of which was allegedly leveraging his AdSense account for the intellectual property rights to Your Favorite Martian. He also claimed that Maker Studios CEO, Danny Zappin, is a convicted felon, which he was not made aware of, when teaming up with Maker Studios. Zappin later publicly admitted to this claim.[24][25][26][27] This was one of the first such publicized contract disputes between a YouTube content creator and their multi-channel network.

In December 2012, Maker announced that it had closed a $36 million round of financing led by Time Warner Investments.[28]

2014: Acquisition by Disney


On March 24, 2014, Maker Studios, Inc. agreed to sell itself to The Walt Disney Company for $500 million, rising to $950 million if financial milestones were met.[29][30] On April 14, 2014, Relativity Media submitted a competing bid of up to $1.1 billion, but Maker denied the bid.[31] In 2014, Jukin Media partnered with Maker Studios, giving Maker Studios access to Jukin's library of video clips, and giving Jukin access to Maker's operational resources, The partnership also resulted in the launch of a dedicated website for FailArmy, Jukin's owned and operated entertainment brand.[32] In December 2015, the company became a subsidiary of Disney Consumer Products and the Disney Interactive division of The Walt Disney Company.[7] The Network also partnered with Fusion TV in a deal that falls under the corporate umbrella of The Walt Disney Company.[33]

As Disney Digital Networks


In February 2017, Maker Studios had around 60,000 YouTube partnerships, but announced that it intends to reduce this to about 1,000. Many partnered YouTubers had been unhappy with the terms of their contracts, including difficulty with ending contracts.[34] On May 2, 2017, Disney absorbed the studio into the newly formed Disney Digital Network.[8]

On January 19, 2018, Twitch signed a deal with Disney to secure exclusive content from some of the entertainment giant's top YouTubers, including Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, Strawburry17 and LuzuGames. A total of four YouTubers (with a combined total of over 44 million subscribers), are involved in the deal, and each will manage their own channels on Twitch.[35]

Key personnel


Courtney Holt was the chief strategy officer of Maker Studios.[36] Due to Danny Zappin stepping down as the company's CEO, Ynon Kreiz, former CEO and chairman of Endemol became the CEO of Maker Studios in May 2013.[37] Prior to Kreiz becoming the CEO of Maker, he was the company's chairman.[38] Ryan Lissack is the current CTO of Maker Studios.[39] In December 2015, Courtney Holt replaced Ynon Kreiz as CEO, coming a year after Disney's acquisition of the group.[7]





Animonster was an animation channel co-founded by Maker and Cosmic Toast Studios, which premiered shows such as Your Favorite Martian: The Series, Powerhouse, and Dino Yacht Club.[40] In 2013, the channel ceased uploading.



Maker Studios produced videos for channels on YouTube, including Consider the Source, Tessa Violet, Chuggaaconroy, Yves Bole, KassemG, Timothy DeLaGhetto, Shimmy AP, Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist's Epic Rap Battles of History (seasons 1-5), Joseph Garrett's Wonder Quest and I Wonder,[41] KingManProds,[42] Sam Macaroni, along with several others[43][44] that have almost as many viewers as Nickelodeon.[4] Maker's first three channels produced for YouTube included Maker Music Network, Tutele, and The Mom's View, with both Maker Music Network and Tutele channels shutting down within six months of their launch.[36][44][45] Maker Studios have also signed celebrities such as famous rapper Snoop Dogg and his YouTube channel WestFestTV,[14][46][47] actor Robert De Niro's Tribeca Enterprises,[48] and Kevin Smith.[49]

In 2013, the most popular Maker production was Epic Rap Battles of History, which averaged 30 million views an episode.[50] Maker's most successful channel was PewDiePie, who was the most-subscribed user on YouTube. He was signed under the Maker sub-network Polaris and later Revelmode until February 13, 2017,[51][52] when Maker dropped him as a result of the international backlash to jokes and actions that media outlets widely described as anti-semitic.[53] During his time with the network, Maker produced his YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium) show Scare PewDiePie with Skybound Entertainment.[54][55] Disney Digital Network in 2017 produced Hyperlinked, a series distributed on YouTube Red and based on the story of the social network Miss O and Friends, and Club Mickey Mouse, a reboot of The Mickey Mouse Club airing exclusively online on social media.[56][57][58]



Television shows


See also



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  2. ^ Eriq Gardner (June 27, 2013). "Maker Studios Power Struggle Detailed in Former CEO's Lawsuit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  3. ^ Laura Sydell (June 18, 2012). "Lights, Camera, YouTube: Studio Cashes In On An Entertainment Revolution". NPR. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Claire Cain Miller (April 10, 2011). "Actors in Smaller Studios, Making Pictures for the Smaller Screen". New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  5. ^ Rosen, Christine (September 30, 2022). "'Like, Comment, Subscribe' Review: Watching YouTube Rise". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  6. ^ "DRAW MY LIFE – Philip DeFranco". The Philip DeFranco Show. YouTube. April 10, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Mike Shields (December 15, 2015). "Maker Studios Head to Step Down". The Wall Street Journal.
  8. ^ a b c "Disney Reveals Digital Network Combining Maker Talent With Editorial Brands". The Hollywood Reporter. May 2, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  9. ^ Will Haskins (June 4, 2014). "Maker Sets Sights on Asian Talent". Media Business Asia. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  10. ^ Roettgers, Janko (February 14, 2017). "Disney's Maker Studios Drops PewDiePie Because of Anti-Semitic Videos". Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  11. ^ "Report: Disney's Maker Studios cutting support for more than 55,000 YouTubers". Polygon. February 23, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  12. ^ Cohen, Joshua (June 30, 2012). "Maker Studios Gets One Billion Views ...a Month". Tubefilter. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  13. ^ Manarino, Matthew (June 28, 2012). "Maker Studios: 1 Billion YouTube Views in One Month". NewMediaRockstars. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  14. ^ a b Graser, Marc (July 30, 2012). "'Fistful' of online content". Variety. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  15. ^ a b Luo, Benny (October 19, 2012). "Updated: Maker Studios Beats Machinima – Now Ranked the #1 Independent YouTube Network on Comscore". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  16. ^ Carrasco, Ed (January 15, 2013). "Fullscreen Now The #1 Independent YouTube Network According to ComScore". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  17. ^ "This YouTube Star Is In The Middle Of A Very Ugly, Public Fight With His Studio". Business Insider. December 13, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  18. ^ Gutelle, Sam (April 29, 2013). "Ray William Johnson Escalates Maker Studios Feud, Threatens To Sue". Tubefilter. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  19. ^ Wallenstein, Andrew (October 18, 2012). "YouTube's top star in contract dispute". Variety. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  20. ^ World's Greatest Ninja!! – Ray William Johnson (YouTube). Equals Three. Ray William Johnson. October 16, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  21. ^ Rapp, Logan (December 11, 2012). "Maker Studios And Ray William Johnson Battle". SourceFed News. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
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  23. ^ Gutelle, Sam (November 27, 2012). "RayWilliamJohnson Starting His Own Studio With Help From Julian Smith". Tubefilter. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
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  25. ^ Editorial Staff (December 11, 2012). "BREAKING: Maker Studios CEO Sends Company-Wide Letter Addressing Ray William Johnson Allegations". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  26. ^ Cohen, Joshua (December 12, 2012). "Maker Studios CEO Sends Letter to Employees, Addresses Past and Ray William Johnson". TubeFilter. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  27. ^ Stuart, Tessa (January 10, 2013). "YouTube Stars Fight Back". LA Weekly. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  28. ^ Lawler, Ryan (December 20, 2012). "With 2 Billion Video Views A Month, Maker Studios Raises $36 Million Round Led By Time Warner". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  29. ^ Fritz, Ben (March 25, 2014). "Disney to Buy Online-Video Network Maker Studios". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  30. ^ Barnes, Brooks (March 24, 2014). "Disney Buys Maker Studios, Video Supplier for YouTube". New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  31. ^ Spangler, Todd (April 14, 2014). "Maker Studios Says Disney Acquisition Is Approved by Shareholders, Who Reject Relativity Bid". Variety. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  32. ^ "No Fail Here: Maker Studios Gets Powerful Viral Video Partner in Jukin Media". Mashable. April 24, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  33. ^ Spangler, Todd (October 13, 2014). "Disney's Maker Studios Teams with Disney-Backed Fusion to Produce Block of TV Programming". Variety. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  34. ^ D'Anastasio, Cecilia (March 1, 2017). "Some YouTubers are overjoyed that Maker Studios is firing them". Kotaku. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  35. ^ Wales, Matt (January 19, 2018). "Twitch inks deal to broadcast exclusive content from top Disney YouTubers". Eurogamer.
  36. ^ a b Peoples, Glenn (October 31, 2011). "Courtney Holt, Former MySpace Music President, Named CEO of Maker Studios, Maximillian DeStefano, stock marketer for maker". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  37. ^ Kafka, Peter (May 7, 2013). "Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin Steps Down, Replaced by Endemol Vet Ynon Kreiz". All Things D. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  38. ^ Miller, Daniel (June 26, 2012). "Ynon Kreiz Joins Maker Studios as Chairman (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  39. ^ Carney, Michael (April 10, 2012). "Maker Studios Hires Former Salesforce Exec Ryan Lissack as CTO". Pando Daily. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
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  41. ^ Dredge, Stuart (April 27, 2015). "YouTube backs digital star Stampy (Joseph's Youtube nickname) 's new Minecraft show Wonder Quest". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
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  49. ^ Cohen, Joshua (January 14, 2013). "Kevin Smith Signs with Maker Studios". Tubefilter. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  50. ^ Pener, Degen (March 11, 2013). "SXSW: Maker Studios Execs on Turning Down TLC and How Mobile Views Threaten Revenue". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
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  53. ^ Roettgers, Janko (February 13, 2017). "Disney's Maker Studios Drops PewDiePie Because of Anti-Semitic Videos". Variety. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
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  58. ^ "Disney Digital Unveils 'Hyperlinked'". licenseglobal.com. May 17, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2021.